My first instinct was sadness, then anger, then more sadness. I hate when Woody gets in this state because I know it is something that can be controlled with sufficient exercise and creating an environment that minimizes territorial and aggressive triggers. No walks and big scary things coming at his neck don't help matters. After going to a behavioral vet, I have a pretty good handle on rationalizing what sets him off, but sometimes I fail to react properly or prevent the situation. This is why I do not allow most children to touch him, much to the dismay of a few parents I've encountered who think I'm being rude. Even after extensive training I sometimes need to be reminded that Woody's mind needs to be in the right place to keep angry thoughts at bay. This actually goes for humans too, but that's a post for another time.
When I got to work, I consulted my good pal Cesar and refreshed my head with ways to manage aggression. You could say this was today's dose of self-help. If you are dealing with a dog who is acting a little off like mine and you are getting frustrated, I strongly suggest reading some Cesar articles and some of the helpful tips from the ASPCA. And above all, call your vet. They can give you some suggestions for managing the situation and recommend a behavioral specialist in your area that will work with you and your dog on the best options for treating his/her type of bad behavior.
Here is what I have found that helps me and may work for you while you are waiting to connect with a professional:
- Find a place in your home to play fetch. Away from fragile object is probably smart. This will help your dog release some energy that he/she is missing from your usual walks.
- Arrange a puppy playdate, or take your dog to a local doggy daycare. Note that you should only do this if your dog is not aggressive with other dogs. This can be expensive, but even getting them to socialize with other dogs a few times a month is better than nothing.
- Allow them some extra time to spend chewing on a bone - but make sure to keep on eye on giving them too many extra calories that could make them sluggish or sick.
- Training and training games. There are SO many things you can do with your dog to exercise his/her mind, whether it's an expensive maze game or just working on some new tricks. I admittedly forget this sometimes.
- Have patience. The worst thing you can do is get overly frustrated. They can sense it. Show them who's boss but don't panic or get overly upset. Seriously, a good combination of behavioral modification and Cesar readings will be your best friend on this topic.
After a stressful morning, our evening has been much better. What are your tips for managing your dog's bad behavior in the winter months?